It was a producer named Frank Guida who adapted this song from the calypso melody. Guida loved calypso music and spent some time in Trinidad; he came up with a song called "Twistin' Matilda (And The Channel)" by combining calypso and R&B. Guida, who was from Norfolk, Virginia, had produced Gary U.S. Bonds and Tommy Facenda, but he found a new singer to record "Twistin' Matilda" - James McCleese.
Guida dubbed McCleese "Jimmy Soul," and in 1962 they released "Twistin' Matilda," which rose to #22 US. Guida then wrote "If You Wanna Be Happy" - again based on a calypso tune - with his wife Carmela and a songwriter named Joseph Royster (he and Royster wrote many songs for Bonds, including "Quarter To Three
The song became a huge hit, spending two weeks at US #1 in 1963. The follow-up "Treat 'Em Tough" topped out at #108, and Soul never made another chart appearance.